Would the tech world be the same without Apple?

Each time I pick up my iPhone, listen to songs on my iPod, or surf the web on my Mac, I think about the mark Apple has left on the technology industry. It's amazing to me that a single company has been able to do so much in such a short amount of time. And it's perhaps most amazing that no other company has even come close in many of the markets the iPhone maker competes in to matching it.When I get thinking about that, I ask myself a simple, but not so solvable question: would the technology world be the same if Apple didn't exist?[Image credit: Henrik Brameus]

Admittedly, my opinions change from time to time. On one hand, I think that it's possible that other companies could have done what Apple has if the company didn't exist. But on the other hand, I tend to believe that Steve Jobs was such a special chief executive that no other CEO could have accomplished what he did.

Let's first look at my first thought.

Sometimes, I can't help but think that what Apple did with the iPod wasn't all that groundbreaking. Sure, it set a new standard in the market, but it built upon changing tides of the time, including the growth of digital music and the desire of people to bring their music with them while they walked around town.

The same might be said about the iPhone. Although it was certainly groundbreaking in its own right, touchscreens were around long before the smartphone was. What's more, it seemed that Apple was trying to bridge the gap between the iPod and the smartphone of the day. Luckily for us, Apple succeeded beyond its wildest expectations.

Even the iPad doesn't strike me as something that another company couldn't have come up with. After all, that device is an extension of an already strong mobile brand.

Now, I'm sure some would say that if others could have done it, why didn't they? Fair point. And I don't really have an answer. But I do think the market was moving towards these major changes, and Apple just happened to be the company that saw it and capitalized on it with the best products.

But after a while, I quickly throw out that line of thinking. In those instances, I start examining the many ways in which Apple and Steve Jobs changed the world since Apple's founding, I look at what other top CEOs have created, and I simply can't imagine where we'd be without Apple. At times, I feel like we'd be years behind where we are now if it weren't for Steve Jobs' vision.

[aquote]Other companies could have done what Apple has. But they didn't[/aquote]

After all, as I noted earlier, other companies could have done what Apple has. But they didn't. And that might just be the most definitive proof to argue the point that Apple has dramatically changed the tech space.

Luckily, though, we don't have to answer the question of whether or not the tech world would be the same without Apple. We have Apple. We celebrated the Steve Jobs days. And the technology space is better because of it.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't question our past. So, allow me to pose the question to you: would the tech world be the same if Apple never existed?